Mexico's educators are filling the need for specially trained employees in the plastics industry, as the country opens its door to trade and new technologies and maneuvers into the global marketplace.
Tucked away in the relatively small city of Saltillo, the Centro de Investigacion en Quimica Aplicada specializes in research in applied chemistry and plastics.
CIQA outperforms the nation's largest universities when measured by the number of patents produced annually, according to Jose Luis Angulo Sanchez, one of the center's adjunct directors.
``All of our 20 Ph.D.-level researchers belong to the Mexico science and research council, Sistema Nacional de Investigadores,'' Angulo added.
CIQA has 71 students working on their master's and doctoral degrees, including students from France, the United States and Russia. CIQA students also take advantage of study exchanges at universities in France, Britain and Canada.
The center was set up 12 years ago, at first for polymers, agriculture and renewable resources in arid regions. During the years CIQA has moved into a primarily plastics research institute that is well-linked to industry.
CIQA offers plastics courses that accommodate companies' needs, as well as plastics diploma courses in Monterrey and Guadalajara, and soon in Mexico City.
CIQA also conducts research on behalf of private firms. In 1996, about 600 Mexican companies worked with CIQA.
For the past four years in Mexico City, the independent organization and research institute, Instituto Mexicano de Plastico Industrial, has offered a training program for plastics executives. It recently published the Enciclopedia de Plastico, a reference text in Spanish on plastics processes.
This year IMPI opened a four-month intensive diploma program for recent university graduates called ``Integral Formation for Plastics Industry Executives.'' IMPI officials said the program is part of a plan to form the Universidad de Pl stico.
Celanese Mexicana SA de CV, one of the leading producers of resins and other chemical products, developed a program 10 years ago to train its employees.
In 1995, Celanese invested $4 million to start Escuela Celanese de Brigadas de Emergencia, said Luis Gonzalez Moreno, ECBE's marketing coordinator. As of 1997, it opened its doors to the private sector.
The school offers classes in hazardous material management, emergency response for transportation, fire prevention and rescue operations in confined areas. The two- to four-day courses are offered at ECBE's Celaya, Mexico, facility.
Eduardo Barbena, general manager EB-Heise SA de CV in Mexico City, has set up an apprentice program with local high schools to train blow mold tooling.